Coming Out Married, Part V
I realized I don't know how to write this last part of my coming-out-married saga, because in some ways, I'm still going through it. Not that I'm struggling with my sexual identity, or that I wish I still lived with my DXH, or anything like that. But in a way, I think all of us who come out later in life feel as if we've lived a split existence, and I'm not sure this ever disappears completely.
I moved in with the DGF a couple of days ago, and the act of relocating spurred some tough memories for me. There is something about combining households, about figuring out whose toaster to use or whether to mix our books or where to put the spoons, that makes me think of all the moves I've made before, and all the moves I might make in the future.
My DXH and I have a good relationship. We are great friends, we trust one another deeply, and I am certain that we will always be important people in each others' lives. Part of this is because he is generous and forgiving. Part of this is because of our honest communication during my coming out process. And part of this is because we both understand sexual orientation and sexual attraction as things beyond our own willful control.
Even though we are good friends, we spend less time together than I would prefer, and sometimes I still miss him. How can I not? We spent ten years together--the vast majority of our adult lives. We helped shape each other into the people we are now. We learned together, made mistakes together. We navigated car purchases and family holidays. We fought, made up, lived in four different places, adopted a dog. I am thankful that I got to spend the years I did with him, and I am also thankful that I had the courage to be true to myself and come out as a lesbian and live on my own.
To people who meet me now, I'm an out-and-proud butch lesbian with a secure identity and a great DGF whom I love dearly. This is all accurate. But even though no one can see them, the remnants of that other life are still inside me. I still think about them, and they still affect who I am. I don't think this is a bad thing at all.
Since coming out, I've met dozens of other gay people, men and women both, who used to be in heterosexual marriages. Sometimes they treat their prior life as a shameful secret, and this seems to be particularly true of butch women. I don't know why this is. Maybe we're ashamed not to have known something so fundamental about ourselves. Maybe we'd like people to think we've always been as comfortable in our own skin as we are now. I can understand this impulse, but I think it's important that we tell our stories--whatever odd, convoluted tales they may be--so that other people can see them and know that they are not alone.
I'll conclude my own little coming out saga with a message to any lesbian or questioning women currently married to a man: If you are true to who you are, things will get better than they are right now. Not in some cheesy, perfect, your-life-will-suddenly-be-awesome way. But in a quieter, more gradual, process of self-definition. It might be a hard road (and I'll offer more advice for navigating that road in a future post). But just because you didn't get it right the first time doesn't mean you don't get another chance to be happy.
11/22/2011 11:29:17 am
I feel like you skipped a part--how did you go from the lonely confused woman you describe in part IV to the confident butch of part 5?
I wanted to wait until the very end to comment. Thank you for sharing your story. I think a lot of our stories are far more complex and contradictory than we'd wish them to be. For narrative simplicity and clarity, we want everything to fit neatly and flow easily from point a to point b. But that isn't how it works. Not in the real world. Things are usually much more complicated, and for some of us it takes a long time to figure out where we belong. It was brave of you to revisit that time, and unspeakably brave to share the story.
A year ago I got a tattoo based on an ancient Celtic design--it's a kind of infinity symbol/spiral, and the idea behind it was that it symbolizes you--the you that is behind you, and the you that is in front of you, as well as the you that you are now. And there's no end, no beginning, because all of it makes you the person/soul/spirit you are.
11/24/2011 12:37:14 am
Great telling of your story...so many similarities to my own...I sometimes think it gives ones like us a broader spectrum on understanding...and I don't know if that sounds 'above-it-all'...? cause I certainly don't mean it that way...
11/24/2011 12:07:18 pm
Thanks for sharing your story. Many of your experiences are familiar to me.. The short version of my story is my ostensibly happy marriage was rocked to its core after I fell in love with a butch lesbian. After confessing this to my husband, I found out that he too was questioning his own sexuality. We ended up separating and both coming out. The experience has only made us closer - I know he is someone I can always count on, and he knows the same about me. It's good to read your story because it seems most lesbians I meet that are my age (late 30s) have been out for basically their whole adult lives, and it makes me feel sort of isolated at times. Perhaps this is the result of location (I live in the SF bay area), or maybe I just need to meet more lesbians! Anyway it is helpful to read your story. Thanks for telling it so eloquently.
11/27/2011 01:19:08 am
Going through the same thing right now. I was married 24 years to a man and we have four kids, 23,21 19 and 15 and I'm 40. Its a happy time and a very DIFFERENT time. I'm not quite sure how to proceed. Taking it one day at a time!
11/29/2011 12:55:53 pm
Thank you for sharing your story. I participated as a panelist for freshman classes at the university where I worked. Our panel would present our coming out story and field any questions. It was a great experience and I learned some things that I didn't know about myself. It was as good for the classes as it was for me.
You're going to laugh at this, but I came upon your blog because I Googled images for "Types of women's tops" for a fashion article I was writing for work, and a photo popped up of a leopard-clad person (of which I still have not looked on your blog for the origin of), and I was curious, so I clicked on it.
12/13/2011 12:30:19 am
Thank you for sharing your story! I'm currently married and just beginning to deal with this same issue. Your story gives me a bit of hope for the future.
You said "Since coming out, I've met dozens of other gay people, men and women both, who used to be in heterosexual marriages. Sometimes they treat their prior life as a shameful secret, and this seems to be particularly true of butch women. I don't know why this is. Maybe we're ashamed not to have known something so fundamental about ourselves. Maybe we'd like people to think we've always been as comfortable in our own skin as we are now. "
1/20/2012 02:28:22 am
Thank you so much for writing this. I didn't come out till I was 33, and I had been previously married. I had battled this undefinable sort of unhappiness for as long as I could remember. I spent years maybe being ok with maybe being bisexual, then gay. I remember that moment that you spoke of, when something clicked into place, and there was no going back. I guess my real point here is that it is so good to find myself identified in some of your experiences. I am surrounded by all this beautiful lesbians, genderqueers, trans, that have seem to have always known who they were. At times I feel inadequate for having had such a long, ongoing journey. Then there is how most people see me comfortable in my androgyny and can't even imagine that I was ever any other way.
7/22/2013 05:36:46 am
I know that this post is older but I felt that I really needed to respond. Your story is very similar to mine. Unfortunately, my ex husband wasn't as forgiving. While he was deployed with the military, I met and fell in love with a butch woman. I had known that I was into women sort of. I appreciated the beauty of femmes like myself but they never felt "right". I hadn't known any butches before her. I loved masculinity but didn't feel right with men. I just knew that I was sad, struggling with who I was, and constantly depressed. When I met my soon to be wife, everything clicked. I remember very well that moment when I KNEW that I couldn't go back. There was nothing to do but tell him and move on. It was probably the worst year of my life. I will say though that things have been better and there is this beautiful calm that comes with knowing who you really are. I wouldn't trade that feeling for anything in the world.
9/10/2013 12:50:30 am
Alexis ~ again I too am a butch with a similar story (47 and only out 5 years). I just wanted to comment on your last couple statements...
3/19/2016 03:06:17 pm
I'm right inside that hurricane at the moment and it kind of helps to read other people's stories. I'm 38, turning 39 in 2 days. I came out to my husband and a few friends almost a year ago. I love him very much and it is agonising to hurt him so. We cannot seem to reach the point of getting divorced, and it's cruel but it's too difficult to make that decision. We have a beautiful 4 year old boy and I spontaneously start crying in the supermarket when I think of what is life is going to be like if we separate. I keep second guessing myself because I want my perfect life back so badly. I know what I have to do but I just cannot find the courage to do it. This limbo has got to end, I cannot keep doing this to him and to myself. Whichever life I choose, I must choose soon and commit to it. Your story has given me some strength but it still feel like I'm standing on the edge of a cliff and I don't know if I'll get smashed to piece if I jump.
2/14/2019 02:16:27 am
Thank you for sharing your story. I cried like a baby just now as this resonates a little too much - so good to know others have experienced this, and you tell it so well.
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